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The festival takes place in Reston Town Square park tomorrow (courtesy Canine Companions)

A DogFest is coming to Reston Town Square Park tomorrow (Saturday).

The event, slated to take place from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. at 11900 Market Street, will benefit Canine Companions, a nonprofit organization that encourages clients and their dogs to live with greater independence. Activities include service dog demonstrations, music, games, speeches and activities for kids.

The event is free, but online registration is encouraged.

“Help us raise money to provide exceptional dogs for the over 400 people currently waiting for their new canine partners,” Canine Companions spokesperson John Bentzinger wrote in a release.

The organization was established in 1975 and is active in six regions across the country.

Dogs that take part in the event must adhere to several conditions, including being social, being up to date with vaccinations, and remaining on a leash no longer than six feet at all times.

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The $2 million grant from Amazon will preserve Alexandria area units.

A local project will receive $2 million in funding from Amazon to secure 18 affordable housing units in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County.

Amazon has awarded Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services, an Alexandria-based nonprofit organization that offers assistive housing services, with the grant to acquire 18 homes in the Colchester Towne Condominiums community of the county.

The homes will be preserved as affordable housing units for individuals earning 50 percent of the area median income, according to a report by the Washington Business Journal.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay lauded the nonprofit organization for receiving the grant, which is the second largest single donation the organization has received.

“Their vital mission is to provide high quality, affordable, stable housing to those who otherwise would have difficulty accessing it,” McKay wrote in a statement on social media.

The funding was allocated through Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund, a $2 billion commitment to preserve and build 20,000 affordable homes in three main hub regions. The initiative launched in January 2021 and has since preserved more than 6,200 affordable homes in the DC area.

The company awarded more than $163 million in loans and grants to 12 developers in the DMV region, according to WBJ.

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A new donation center opens tomorrow in Franconia (Photo via GreenDrop).

A new mobile donation center offers local residents another option to donate gently used items in Franconia’s Festival at Manchester Lakes Shopping Center. 

GreenDrop, a private organization, has partnered with the American Red Cross, Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation and the National Federation of the Blind for the donation center. Residents can donate gently used items to the center, which is located at 7015 Manchester Boulevard in the parking lot of the shopping center by Boardwalk Fries. 

The center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for drop-offs, including lightly-used clothing, shoes, blankets, kitchenware and household goods. An attendant will be on site to receive the items and asks donors to indicate which nonprofit organization they would like to donate to. Donors receive a tax deductible receipt. 

“We are thrilled to bring our sustainable services to the Festival at Manchester Lakes donation center and provide an easy, earth-friendly way for Fairfax County residents to support three deserving nonprofits,” said Jason Krieger, Director of GreenDrop operations. “We look forward to being an integral part of the Franconia community.”

GreenDrop is a  for-profit paid solicitor that accepts donation on behalf of other organizations. It aims to support nonprofit organizations through free-standing locations throughout the mid-Atlantic region. The company pays its nonprofit partners for the items individuals donate. 

A groundbreaking to celebrate the opening of the center is set for tomorrow (Friday) at 10 a.m. 

Photo via GreenDrop 

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The Fairfax County Government Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County has issued a call for innovators to pitch solutions that work toward carbon neutrality and clean energy.

Pitch and Pilot,” a county-led innovation challenge, aims to find and pilot new projects that improve energy efficiency, increase renewable electricity use, and encourage the use of electric vehicles.

The winning team will have the chance to pilot their proposal in the county.

The pitch competition is sponsored by the county, George Mason University, and Smart City Works, a local nonprofit organization.

“Finding answers that increase energy efficiency and shift from a carbon-based to a carbon-neutral economy is a central goal in Fairfax County’s Strategic Plan,” event organizers wrote in last week’s announcement. “The county is courting solutions because the county’s first-ever Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) calls for carbon neutrality within the community by 2050, with a 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2030.”

An orientation is slated for Sept. 15. The contest concludes with a public pitch contest on Oct. 19. The deadline to submit a two-page concept is Oct. 3.

Smart City Works aims to empower communities to solve urban challenges and improve economic growth through technological innovation.

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A fundraiser prepares to rappel down the Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center in 2021 (courtesy Sweetheart Photography by Tammy)

For those who find the prospect of being 14 stories in the air exciting instead of terrifying, the Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner Center has some available views without the rooms.

Dozens of rappellers will descend down the side of the hotel later this month for a charity fundraiser to support the nonprofit Helping Haitian Angels (HHA), which runs a school and orphanage in Delke, Haiti.

Now in its second year, the event is a partnership between the nonprofit and Over the Edge, an adventure company that was also behind a rappeling fundraiser at the Hilton in Arlington. That raised over $200,000 for the local nonprofit New Hope Housing in May.

“Hyatt Hotels has a long-standing history of supporting local nonprofit and global organizations,” said Jon Davenhall, the hotel’s general manager. “…Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner Center is excited to be the Presenting Sponsor and help make a lasting impact in the lives of children who are left vulnerable without the care of loving parents.”

The fundraiser has been split into two days, starting at 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 with a kick-off reception, media day, and local celebrity and sponsor participants. All of the fundraisers will then rappel down the hotel between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 27, according to a news release.

Funds raised by the event will go toward the construction of a secondary school and trade school at HHA’s Kay Anj Village campus in Haiti, HHA board member and Over the Edge event lead Carol Wallace says.

Founded in 2008 by a Christian missionary couple, HHA opened the Lekol Harvey Christian School for the children in its orphanage in October 2014 and now provides education and summer camps for up to 150 elementary school students and their parents, according to its website.

The new secondary and trade schools will serve older children as a complement to the existing school, which Wallace says “is thriving.”

“Children in the neighboring community of Dekle will also be invited to attend the secondary school once constructed,” Wallace said.

After landing 85 participants in 2021, HHA has upped the ante for this year’s Over the Edge event with a goal of 110 individuals. There are currently 44 people signed up, according to the event page.

Registration costs $50, which counts toward the minimum of $1,250 that aspiring rappellers must raise in order to participate.

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The marketplace concept is inspired by farmers markets (via Anne Preble/Unsplash)

This month, Fairfax County residents in need will have a couple of opportunities to stock up free fresh produce and other food.

The Cathy Hudgins Community Center at Southgate is taking part in the Capital Area Food Bank‘s Community Marketplace program, which provides fresh produce every second Saturday of the month. The next distribution is slated for Saturday (Aug. 13) from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the center, which is located at 12125 Pinecrest Road in Reston. 

The partnership is the product of an alliance between the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services and the food bank, which aims to bring food distributions to communities in need. 

Lately, nonprofit partners have reported high levels of food insecurity in the state and the county. Food insecurity is a growing challenge for moderate-income families in what is becoming a high cost-of-living area.

According to the food bank, one out of 10 residents in the D.C. region is food insecure, nearly a third of them children. 

The Willson Multicultural Center in Seven Corners will also hold a food distribution this month through a partnership with Comunidad, a nonprofit in Falls Church that aims to engage and help locally rooted community leaders.

The event serves over 250 families each month, and volunteers take boxes of food to the homes of local Ukrainian families.

The community marketplace concept intends to bring farmers-market-style opportunities with high-quality, fresh produce for people who are food insecure. The events often include cooking demonstrations, utility assistance, health screenings and descriptions for recipes.

Photo via Anne Preble/Unsplash

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Best Buddies Virginia and D.C. had a grand opening reception for its Tysons Corner Center office on July 13 (courtesy Tysons Corner Center)

It took a team effort to get Best Buddies its new office at Tysons Corner Center.

The nonprofit’s Virginia and D.C. affiliate moved into a first-floor suite near the mall’s former Lord and Taylor in March, but the office didn’t get an official grand opening until July 13, according to Molly Whalen, the affiliate’s state director.

While the site is mostly for staff, the office is also intended to serve as a gathering space where Best Buddies can host events, trainings, and meet-ups for participants in its programs to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

In addition to its signature friendship program, which pairs people with and without disabilities to encourage socializing, Best Buddies provides job assistance, leadership development, and two live-in residences in D.C. and Florida.

“We try to raise awareness of inclusion and friendship and employment and leadership advocacy for people with IDD,” Whalen said. “So, just being in the mall and having that Best Buddies sign is a big deal, because people will want to learn more.”

Best Buddies Virginia and D.C. decided a change was needed from the more traditional office it had in Seven Corners after employees pivoted to working from home in March 2020 in response to COVID-19.

According to Whalen, the rent proved too much for a space the organization wasn’t using, and it was set to increase “considerably” each year.

“By end of last year, like October, we were kind of desperate to get out of the contract, because it was just so much money that, as a nonprofit, we were just kind of burning,” she said.

In stepped NBC4’s “The Scene” reporter Tommy McFly, who chairs Virginia and D.C. affiliate’s advisory board and helped secure a discounted lease for a vacant retail storefront for Best Buddies.

The nonprofit was also the recipient of furniture donations from National Association of Manufacturers, which happened to be relocating, and Heather Cooper — a Best Buddies volunteer who happens to be a former White House floral and interior designer — decorated the windows and wall with a mural.

Though the office isn’t open to the public, except for scheduled events, Best Buddies plans to take advantage of the location’s visibility by putting a video and QR codes in the front windows that will enable passersby to get more information about its mission and programs, according to Whalen.

“The new location will provide Best Buddies the opportunity to grow their work and increase its exposure to new audiences while being metro accessible to those they serve,” Tysons Corner Center said in a press release.

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Morning Notes

A flock of birds flies over Route 123 in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Real Estate Taxes Due Today — For Fairfax County property owners, it’s the final day to send in the first installment of your annual real estate taxes, which saw significant increases this year even with a 3-cent reduction in the county’s rate. Payments can be made to the Department of Tax Administration by phone, mail, drop box, mobile app and online. [DTA]

Springfield Man Convicted in 2020 Murder — A jury convicted Carlington Fitz Auther Campbell yesterday (Wednesday) for shooting and killing Anthony Sullivan outside a West Springfield apartment in November 2020, Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced. Campbell was found guilty of second-degree murder and a weapons charge, which carry possible prison sentences of five to 40 years and three years, respectively. [WUSA9]

Decision on Mosaic District Skating Rink Postponed — “Because of some public pushback, unresolved questions and a legal-advertising snafu, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on July 13 deferred until September its decision on whether to allow temporary ice- and roller-skating rinks in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.” [Sun Gazette]

Fairfax City Veterinarian Helps Ukraine Animal Shelters — “Dr. Courtney Katsur chokes up when she describes what she saw while volunteering for two weeks in Ukraine. The veterinarian with Town & Country Animal Hospital in Fairfax tried for months to find a way to get to the war zone to help animals she was seeing in the news.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Clinics Available for Required Student Vaccinations — “Before students return to school in late August, families can check to ensure their students are up to date on immunizations required at Fairfax County Public Schools. The Fairfax County Health Department is offering appointments at upcoming immunization clinics.” [Patch]

Inova to Rebrand Urgent Care Centers With Partnership — Inova Health System will soon let patients make appointments, check wait times and more through the on-demand health care platform GoHealth Urgent Care. Announced yesterday (Wednesday), the joint venture will convert seven existing Inova Urgent Care locations in Northern Virginia into Inova-GoHealth Urgent Care centers later this year, with additional locations planned. [Inova]

Penn Daw Firefighters Help Mow Lawn — “Recently, Station 11, Penn Daw, B-Shift responded to a routine EMS incident for an elderly gentleman experiencing distress while mowing his lawn on one of the hottest days of the year. The #FCFRD crew assisted the gentlemen, and then completed mowing his lawn prior to leaving.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Park Authority Fall Registration Begins Next Week — “Fairfax County Park Authority registration for fall classes and programs opens Aug. 2, 2022. Fall classes will be in full swing with programs at Rec Centers, nature centers, historic sites, lakefront parks, golf courses and schools. Virtual classes are available for those who prefer or cannot attend in person.” [FCPA]

McLean Lidl Hosts Kids’ Drawing Contest — “Lidl is holding a drawing competition for children at its new McLean store as part of a benefit for the SHARE of McLean food bank. Starting Wednesday, children can participate in the drawing competition, with a chance to win a $100 Lidl gift card…Once the competition closes on Wednesday, Aug. 3, Lidl will narrow down the entries and ask McLean community members to vote for their favorite piece of art.” [Patch]

It’s Thursday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 86 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]

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A bench hand-painted by a volunteer artist was placed near the Vienna Town Green in 2019 (via Vienna Arts Society)

The Town of Vienna will usher in spring next year with color and creativity, thanks to a partnership between the Vienna Arts Society and local businesses.

The nonprofit organization revealed last week that it is bringing back the “Take a Seat, Vienna” project first introduced to mark its 50th anniversary in 2019.

“Beginning this fall, a new collection of hand-built benches will be custom painted (and weather treated) by the artists of the Vienna Arts Society,” the announcement said. “In the Spring of 2023, the benches will be placed around town for 6 months to create beauty and buzz for local businesses!”

Like last time, the painted benches will be auctioned off once the six months are up. Funds will support the society, which operates an arts center on Church Street and offers classes, exhibits, and other events.

The first “Take a Seat” garnered the participation of 42 different artists, along with many volunteers who helped deliver the benches and obtain permits from the town. The auction ultimately netted over $50,000.

Local businesses and other organizations can sponsor a bench for $500, though the Vienna Arts Society warns that the limited number of benches available “will go fast.”

“During those 6 months, there will tons of photos opportunities, scavenger hunts, and lots of great social media promotions,” VAS said in a newsletter. “This is a wonderful way to promote your business, and bring charm and beauty to Vienna!”

Groups interested in sponsoring a bench can contact Pat Britz at pbritz12@gmail.com. The deadline to apply is Aug. 31.

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Morning Notes

A popsicle melts at Capital One Center’s The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Dog Dies in Newington Townhouse Fire — Unattended cooking started a fire at a townhouse in the 6700 block of Red Bird Woods Court last Friday (July 15) that displaced one resident and caused approximately $93,750 in damages. County firefighters found a dog while searching the property that was given medical care but didn’t survive. [FCFRD]

Fairfax Nonprofit Helps Rescued Beagles — The Fairfax-based animal rescue group Homeward Trails is one of several shelters across the country helping the Humane Society find homes for beagles rescued from a Cumberland breeding facility. The nonprofit will place 1,500 of the dogs and has already received almost 1,000 adoption applications. [Washingtonian]

New Mental Health Crisis Hotline Available — “A new 9-8-8 crisis and support hotline is now active across the United States, including here in Fairfax County…Dialing either 9-8-8 or the existing [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline] number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will connect you to behavioral health care and support 24 hours a day.” [Fairfax County Government]

GW Parkway Rehab Could Bring Traffic Cameras — “WTOP has learned that an upcoming major rehabilitation of the George Washington Parkway’s northern section will lay the groundwork — literally — for live traffic cameras along a 7-mile stretch of the roadway running from the Capital Beltway to Spout Run. Ground was broken for the project on Monday.” [WTOP]

McLean Baseball Player Drafted by New York Mets — “Add one more significant achievement, and likely the best of all, in a season full of big accomplishments and recognitions for Nick Morabito. The McLean resident and 2022 graduate of Gonzaga College High School recently was chosen in the second round (75th pick overall) of the Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets.” [Sun Gazette]

Great Falls Bank to Expand — “Three-year-old Trustar Bank in Great Falls has raised $18 million in fresh capital and intends to use the proceeds to help fund its expansion across the D.C. region. The private placement…could be a prelude to an eventual initial public offering for the $560 million-asset Trustar.” [Washington Business Journal]

Annandale Park Field Named After Advocate — “In action at their regular meeting on July 13, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted to name rectangular field 6 at Pine Ridge Park in honor of Wanda Rixon at the request of the Fairfax Women’s Soccer Association (FWSA)…FWSA and Rixon played an instrumental role in the effort to retain Pine Ridge Park as permanent park land.” [FCPA]

DMV Stops by Tysons Library Tomorrow — “Looking to renew your license, get the real ID and more? The DMV is visiting the Tysons-Pimmit Library. Registration is required and an appointment can be made here. Please note the DMV takes a lunch break from 12:30pm-1:30pm.” [FCPL]

It’s Thursday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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